Kochi, (Kerala), Feb 16: The Indian Coast Guard and Navy on Friday escorted the Italian merchant ship that got involved in a controversy over killing of two Indian fishermen, to the Kochi port.
Security officials of an Italian cargo vessel, Enrica Lexie, on Wednesday allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen mistaking them as pirates in the high seas off Ambalapuzha in Kerala.
The Italian consul general Glampaolo Cutillo and even the captain of the ship on Friday met Kochi police commissioner M R Ajith Kumar.
The Indian officials have said that the security officials of the Italian merchant vessel had shot the Indian fishermen without any sort of provocations.
Italy had explained that the Italian ship had mistaken the fishermen as pirates.
Earlier on Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs has summoned the Italian envoy Giacomo Sanfelice di Monteforte to lodge a strong protest over the incident.
The Italian Ambassador, speaking to reporters in New Delhi after a meeting at India’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday said that the crew of the ship acted in self-defence after the fishing vessel failed to stop and demanded the crew be released.
The Italian envoy was asked to ensure the crew of the ship cooperate with Indian authorities, a Foreign Ministry official said, adding that a case of murder has been registered against the crew at Neendakara Coastal police station, where surviving fishermen sought help.
The Indian Coast Guard, however, has said that it is within its rights to take action as the incident occurred within the country's ‘Special Economic Zone’ which extends to a little beyond a thousand kilometers.
India’s federal government too affirmed that the matter was not being taken lightly with the Union Home Ministry saying that people responsible for the shooting would be indicted while Defence Minister A K Antony described the incident as "serious and unfortunate".
According to the European naval force patrolling the Indian Ocean, as piracy attacks in the region have multiplied over the years, about 26 percent of the ships that travel through the Indian Ocean report having armed guards on board, compared with 10 percent a year ago.
Maritime piracy costs the global economy an estimated $7 billion to $12 billion annually and attacks in the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and off the Somali coast increased five fold in the past five years to a record 236, according to international maritime organisations.